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An intriguing, chatty, scholarly biography that will reward anyone with an interest in Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, or 16th-century English court life. For a king or queen, filling empty time is an entirely serious business, one in which Anne Boleyn excelled. Ives makes clear that the activities of women in the royal courts of the time, the social protocols, pageants, and entertainments, as well as the conventions of courtly love, were not diversions from more solemn affairs, but, in fact, were life itself. The evaluation of this period from a more feminist perspective is a strength of this study. Anne Boleyn is examined as participant, not pawn, in the factional alignments of the court, and as consultant with the King over a broad range of affairs. It is an interesting mix of historical data and intimate personal glimpses (Henry's love letters to Anne particularly) nicely melded by Ives' wry tone. The question of what Anne looked like is answered authoritatively by the identification of a portrait-ring made for her daughter, Queen Elizabeth. The likeness is not that of a beauty, and this single fact indicates the enormity of her powers of intellect and personality, since there is no question that she attracted mightily the King of England, A comprehensive account, and, like its subject, with a distinct charm.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1986
Publisher: Basil Blackwell